Free to Move is 2 Months Old! And Other News!
Free to Move is 2 months old already… and I haven’t found time to write a blog post yet… well it’s been a busy 2 months…
So here is a quick recap: I have thought a session of Cuban Salsa and started my Afro-Latin Body Movement drop-in class which is still going strong. But most exciting of all I have just returned from 2 and a half weeks of dance training in Montreal, dancing an average of 8 hours a day, learning lots of new skills I will integrate in my upcoming classes! For this summer I will be performing at different festivals including the Multicultural and African Festival. I am also planning a Salsa and Afro-Latin Dance Practice on the Waterfront on Wednesday evenings for July and August.
I am really loving teaching the Afro-Latin Body Movement class. Seeing so much progress in my students makes me so proud. They might not recognize it yet, but I sees joints opening up, gained flexibility and strength, smoother movements, improved musicality, gained confidence…
Having good body movement while dancing any African or Latin dance can make a big difference. Knowing moves is one thing, but making them look authentic and believable no matter your ethnicity is quite another learning curve. One which isn’t as quick or spectacular as learning a new complicated spin combination.
No, working on body movement takes time, as you have to train your body to move and react differently, working also on strength, flexibility, and musicality. It’s actually quite an humbling process, as many realize quickly that simply isolating their shoulders will take them weeks to master. The hardest to understand for some is that you cannot force these movements on your body as your body has to be almost completely relaxed to be able to do them. So, patience is a great asset, not just patience with the class, but also with yourself and your body. This is not a race. Of course the more you practice, the faster your body will get the movements, but everybody’s bodies are different and will assimilate the new movements differently.
Most people have certain places in their body where they store stress or tension, this part of their body will probably take much longer to release than other parts. So you may become very good at moving your hips, but your shoulders seem stuck, but the student besides you is shaking their shoulders like it’s the easiest thing in the world… but they might find hip movements challenging. Everyone is on their own journey to becoming the best dancer they can be. To me the best dancers instead of choosing to look at their limitations, choose to look at their strength and develop their own style using what their body is the best at doing.
So, sure you can say, I have stiff shoulders, a bad knee, I wasn’t born Latino or African… there are a million excuses you can find not to learn or dance. But, the Latinos and Africans, sure many of them can dance very well, but you do realize that many of them started dancing when they were very young, so they have had decades to refine their skills. It’s the same thing as starting ballet as an adult and after a few months being discouraged because you can’t dance like a professional ballerina who started dancing at the age of 4. Many people do not realize but Afro-Latin body movement is a skill that you have to refine like any other. I have been learning for eight years now and I’m still learning every day. To me the best thing about this type of dancing is the freedom of movement that comes with it.
As many of you know I have just spent two and a half weeks in Montreal doing dance training in Cuban Salsa and Kizomba. I really went there on pure faith as I didn’t know the teachers I would learn from. But it turned out to be a really great trip filled with great people, great teachers, and great dancing. It was so great to meet so any people passionate about dance and open to sharing their knowledge.
I trained in Cuban Salsa and Cuban dances with Tito Cardenas Rodriguez of Tito Salsabor, former dancer and director of the Folkloric Ballet at Havana University. I was able to refine my skills both as a leader and follower in both Cuban Salsa and Cuban Son as well as learn more about the more Afro-Cuban dances like the orishas by taking privates, participating in the schools group classes and even training with their dance troupe. I really enjoyed my experience.
I trained in Angolan style Kizomba with Manuel Dos Santos of Kizomba Canada. It was a great experience and have really fallen in love with this sensual dance. It’s like a mixture of many of the dances that I like to dance including Argentine Tango, Zouk and Bachata. Manuel was a great teacher and I would really love to be able to bring him to Halifax one day to do a weekend workshop. In the meantime, I am giving myself the goal to introduce Halifax to this new dance that is gaining popularity all around the globe.
Last but not least I have had the chance to attend the Kizomba & Zouk Unity Congress for an intensive weekend where I have had the chance to learn more about Zouk and Kizomba, including taking some classes with some of the most sought after Kizomba teachers in the world, my personal favourite, Kwenda Lima.
Also enjoyed Ana Paula’s class about Kizomba body movement, and had a good talk with her about our shared belief in the importance of the legs, feet and weight transfers to have more defined hip movements.
I was blessed to meet so many great dancers and teachers, including hanging out with Tony Pirata, another world renowned Kizomba teacher. All in all a great trip and a great two months for Free to Move. Check out my videos page for more great videos!
Here is to another two great months!
Free to Move